Soccer City a white elephant? 90,000 say otherwise
Since July’s World Cup final, which attracted an official attendance of 84 490, the crowds at Johannesburg’s Soccer City have been getting bigger and bigger.
On Saturday the attendance record was beaten again when South Africa hosted its League Cup final at the venue.
Conveniently the match was between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, the two best supported teams in the country whose intense rivalry has been enhanced by several additional, and unexpected, cup meetings in the recent months.
Over 90,000 braved traffic problems to turn up and see the Chiefs triumph 3-0, trumping the 88,791 that watched the August rugby test when New Zealand’s All Blacks beat the Springbok in a Tri-Nations match at the gigantic stadium.
The fact rugby previously held the attendance record at Soccer City has motivated football officials to try to ensure they reclaim it as their own given the venue was extensively renovated for the World Cup and is long acknowledged as the cathedral of football in the country.
Tickets on Saturday cost R60 and R40, a snip in comparison to what was paid for the same seats at the World Cup in mid-year. (R10 = approx 1 Euro)
But South African fans have been moaning since the World Cup when the domestic league hiked up admission prices 100 percent from R20 to R40 per Premier League match.
The attendance record set at the World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands was broken just one month later at the start-of-season Charity Spectacular, which pulled in a few thousands more.
But then two weeks later the first ever rugby game at the venue shattered the record again while there have been several other big outings since.
The last meeting between Chiefs and Pirates was just a month ago, a league clash that pulled in some 78,000 but where many of the orange seats in the top of the iconic stadium were unfilled.
Soccer City is now run by a private management company who have been positive in their outlook about the future viability of the stadium.
All of the other stadiums built for the World Cup are also being used, some less frequently than others but there is every evidence that officials are trying hard to avoid being accused of building ‘white elephants’.